They say the world is getting smaller. With globalization, the popularity of the internet and improved transportation, cities begin to replicate, people start to emulate. And yet we still live in our own tiny worlds.
As children, we lived in a make believe, fantasy world. As adults, we compete in races. The rat race to make ends meet. Monetary accumulation, career achievements are but distractions that blind us from beyond the superficial world of ours, making us oblivious to the problems of others.
"Of Legacies And Legends", a first-of-its-kind photography exhibition on the lives of working and street children featuring photographs taken by children, attempts to remove us from that comfort zone, from that veneer that consumes us. In a time and age where the ideals of human rights are upheld and the concept of childhood is assumed, we overlook the plight of child labour in India.
The brainchild of Japanese child rights activist Mioi Nakayama together with the artistic director of Janothsava [an Indian theatrical group] John Deveraj, a series of photography workshops were conducted in the southern Indian state of Bangalore. Nineteen participants, aged 8 to 19, ranging from Indian students, former child labourers to child domestic workers were involved in the workshop where each one of them were given a camera and a roll of film to capture their perspective on child labour.
"Of Legacies And Legends" documents the youths' investigation into the Indian city and their accounts on child labour. Situations captured range from youths preparing for a game, children selling wares on the streets to children rummaging through rubbish heaps.
A common scene on the streets of Bangalore, the transportation of these images to Singapore is an attempt to educate the people on the condition of child labour in India. Brought into Singapore by newly-formed NGO, The Choice Initiative (TCI). TCI is set up by youths who were so affected by the conditions during an expedition to India that they initiated an organization to inform and educate youths of the choices available to them in life. "Of Legacies And Legends" is one such vehicle for education and Singapore is the latest stop for the exhibition's tour. First exhibited in India on April 30th 2003, which is also known as Anti-Child Labour Day, it has ever since been on tour from India, Morocco and Japan.
The Singapore stop will feature over seventy images captured by the participants of the workshop. Even so, It is hard to imagine and come to gripes with the scale and extend of the plight faced by the children of India.
With the world getting smaller, we will have to face it. They say that the youth are the hope of the future. Then what legacy and legend do you want to leave to them?
Of Legacies And Legends
Date: 9th -19th January 2004
Place: Pacific Gallery
Text and Photos: Fann ZJ from npsea Enterprise